India - Artificial reefs breathe new life for Tamil Nadu’s fishing communities
Reefs do not come to mind when one thinks of India’s coastline as coral reef establishments are limited to the waters around the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Palk Bay and the Gulf of Mannar. However, when fishermen from Poompuhar, Tamil Nadu, reported that their fish catch was declining, the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) and the Tamil Nadu Fisheries Development Corporation (TNFDC) stepped in with the solution of deploying artificial reefs.
Artificial reefs (AR) are man-made structures deployed on generally featureless seabed to create a substratum to support a variety of marine life or where existing natural reefs have been destroyed. An AR can serve several purposes – recreational activities (surfing, scuba diving, snorkelling, tourism), disaster management, coastal protection, managing and promoting marine biodiversity, increasing fish catch, and preventing trawling.
“It is important to identify the needs of the area and the community before installing an AR, as the models can vary with the purpose,” explained S. Velvizhi, principal scientist at MSSRF’s Fish for All centre. “The AR project here aims to improve fish stocks by creating a sustainable marine ecosystem, thus providing a secure source of livelihood for local, traditional fisherfolk.”
The demand for such intervention came after villagers from Poompuhar heard of the success of the year-old AR project from the neighbouring coastal villages in Karaikal, Puducherry.